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UN rights expert resigns over denial of access to Occupied Palestinian Territory

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, Makarim Wibisono [official profile], resigned from his position Monday, saying that Israel has not granted him access [press release] to the Occupied Palestinian Territory after repeated requests. In his resignation letter, Wibisono stated he regrets having to resign, but he does not believe Israel will grant him direct access to Palestinian victims and he remains concerned about human rights violations in the territory. He further said: "It is my sincere hope that whoever succeeds me will manage to resolve the current impasse, and so reassure the Palestinian people that after nearly half a century of occupation the world has not forgotten their plight and that universal human rights are indeed universal." On the other hand, Wisibono states that Palestine has cooperated fully with his requests. Wibisono's resignation is effective March 31 after presenting a final report to the UN Human Rights Council.

The Israel-Palestine conflict [HRW backgrounder] continues to be a significant international legal issue. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] released a report [JURIST report] in July that points to evidence of war crimes committed by Israel in the August 2014 retaliation for the capture of an Israeli soldier by Hamas [BBC backgrounder]. The attacks led to 135 Palestinian civilian deaths, including 75 children. In August UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] and recently appointed UN special envoy in the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov condemned [JURIST report] the arson attacks in the West Bank that killed the Palestinian child and severely wounded the child's parents and sibling. In June Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said that he had presented documents [JURIST report] to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to assist in the investigation of alleged Israeli war crimes. Also in June a report released [JURIST report] by the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict found that both Israel and Hamas may have committed war crimes during the conflict. In May AI accused [JURIST report] Hamas forces of leading a series of abductions, torturous acts and unlawful killings against Palestinians. In April a UN independent board of inquiry announced [JURIST report] that it uncovered evidence that at least 44 Palestinians were killed by "Israeli actions" while sheltering at UN locations during the Gaza conflict.

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